February 25, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Having only experienced the book after seeing the film, I find it to be a close and appropriate adaptation, and I'm glad that Spike Jonze was the man at the helm. Having said this, I can't help but feel like I was prying into a world that was better experienced through the nostalgic eyes of an adult who flipped through the book in their youth. The film has all of Jonze's signature moves, including the dark, awkward feeling of Being John Malkovich and the plot ambiguity of Adaptation. The original material is inevitably expanded upon, with the Things getting much bigger roles than in the book, but keeping with the original concept, the Things function as caricatures of old jewish couples, as the original book's author (with which Jonze kept contact throughout the making of the film) intended when he designed them based on his aunts and uncles of his Brooklyn youth. The one exception was Gandolfini in Carol's role, whose voice is by now so linked with the iconic Tony Soprano that it was hard to separate the two, but I found it worked nicely since Carol is the most violent and temperamental of the Things. I think it's more than appropriate for kids, although the slow pace will most likely have them bored instead of scared by the dark portions. Overall, a fun ride for fans of the book or Jonze, albeit less so for audiences that don't care for either unless under the influence of some good hallucinogens.